NNA082: Olivia Block – ‘Aberration Of Light’ C62 s/s
We’re proud to present brand new work from Chicago-based sound artist Olivia Block in the form of “Aberration of Light.” An accomplished composer of electro-acoustic music, Block has premiered her work all over the globe in the form of both solo and collaborative live performances, sound installations at highly-regarded art institutions, and lectures at academic establishments. This conceptually inspired work was originally conceived in 2011 as a four-speaker soundtrack for a collaboration with two expanded cinema artists using manipulated light from film-less 35mm projectors. For NNA’s 82nd release, the artist offers us a 31-minute reworked version of this material for the cassette format. In essence, this piece is as much about the absence of sound as much as the presence of it. Slowly materializing from total silence, Block utilizes acoustic sounds blended with a palette of electronics to create intricately assembled fields of sonic depth. The result is richly ominous without being overtly aggressive, as the compositional arc of the piece follows a swelling, almost respiratory motion of expanding and contracting. The dynamic nature of Aberration of Light is enhanced by Block’s delicate use of white noise as a textural guide, calling attention to the acoustic sounds at its valleys, and overwhelming the listener with ferocity and harshness at its peaks. As the piece progresses, harmonic tonalities begin to emerge, reinforced by the use of clarinet and bass clarinet from fellow Chicagoan musicians James Falzone and Jason Stein, respectively, seamlessly integrating themselves into the mass of electronics. The quieter moments of the piece command deeper listening, to the point where the sounds of one’s own listening environment become indistinguishable from the recording, calling to mind Cage’s ideas on the impossibility of true silence. Block claims to bring an emotional element to her work which can be both heard and felt through the delicate and dynamic nature of the recording, further deepened by a brilliant use of control, precision, power, and patience. Material repeats on both sides of the cassette. Comes with digital download coupon.
NNA083: Patrick Higgins – ‘Social Death Mixtape’ C63
The use of the word “mixtape” in the title of this release is no coincidence. New York City based composer and performer Patrick Higgins has appointed NNA with a highly original concept in the presentation of New Music – a “mix” or sampling of personal experimentations spanning from 2009 to the present day, intended specifically for the cassette format. Higgins, perhaps best known for his guitar work in avant-garde music group Zs and production work with Future-Past Studios, is able to accurately demonstrate his versatility as both a composer and performer through this diverse collection of recording studies. Very little territory is left uncharted as Higgins makes use of piano, harpsichord, synthesizer, guitar, violin, sampler, computer processing, and even group ensemble to communicate his unique musical vision. Bringing a genuinely modern voice to composition, the artist draws on contemporary pop culture influence (underground art rock, independent pop, noise) along with nods to 60’s minimalism (Riley, Glass, Meredith Monk) and classical Western electro-acoustic composition. The studies on this release range from the highly dissonant to the more consonant as Higgins blends found sound and electro-acoustic texture with harmonic notes, creating further originality by combining elements of improvisation with written score. Pieces like “Pattern Select” blast apart with pointillistic, colorful synth programming that builds its power through the precise use of dissonance, recalling the work of Babbitt, Boulez, and the French pioneers of early musique concrete. The “Curves, Points, Lines” series of tracks demonstrates the inventive studio layering of unorthodox acoustic instrument sounds, as Higgins dissects the intricacies of the various sounds made by the violin and rearranges them into something completely new. “Live At Oberlin” brings the music outside of the studio into the arena of performance, as Higgins lends his abilities to a group improvisation setting, using guitar and laptop to build new sonic worlds together with the Mivos Quartet on string instruments. “Social Death Mixtape” succeeds at showcasing Higgins’ prowess not only as a musician, but as a generally well-rounded artist, whether its as a composer and arranger, instrumentalist, live performer, electronic producer, or studio engineer. The experience of this release is further enhanced by the originality of creating an “audio sketchbook” for the modern composer by tapping into one of the earliest and most classical essences of the cassette tape medium – the “mix.”